​How to be the ultimate Christmas party planner

Brilliant tips and ideas for having a fabulous (and stress-free) holiday get together

​How to be the ultimate Christmas party planner

Planning the perfect Christmas party can be stressful but with a little know-how and some clever tricks up your sleeve, you can create a magical evening that family and friends will remember for months to come.

The key to throwing a holiday bash that's low on stress and easy on your wallet, is to be prepared and not give yourself too much to do. That means accepting people's offers of help and relying on some brilliant shortcuts like simple but tasty party food and fuss-free décor ideas

From mouth-watering dishes to unique holiday decorations, discover your foolproof guide to throwing the best bash this holiday season... 

Party food

This is not the moment to attempt a chocolate soufflé for the first time! Instead, make your life easier by opting for easy make-ahead dishes and tempting shop-bought goodies like this Extra Special Handmade Pan-Asian Duck Selection or Handmade Pulled Beef Wellingtons - they look so elegant yet all you'll have to do is throw them in the oven. Another easy but impressive looking dish is our Extra Special Prawn and Crab Filo Tarts which will melt in your mouth. And your guests will love our bite-sized Mexican delights like chicken tortillas, chicken tortas and chilli and bean tacos. Find more quick and easy Christmas party food ideas here.

For ultimate convenience, serve up a selection of savoury and sweet nibbles and dishes buffet style. This will ensure that you can get dishes out quickly while they're warm, and guests can help themselves to as much food as they like. Place a variety of dishes on a large table with all four sides easily accessible to avoid big lines forming. Keep a pile of napkins and basket full of cutlery nearby. 

Don't forget the vegetarians...

Or those with any specific dietary requirements! It's always a good idea to have a couple of veggie and gluten-free ideas up your sleeve for those last-minute surprise guests. These veggie spring rolls, Extra Special Goats' Cheese Tarts with Caramelised Onion and gluten-free mince pies are great options for special diets. 

Table setting

Now that you've got the food sorted, style up your spread by incorporating unexpected items and festive touches to the table. Something like a glass vase filled with fresh cranberries or twig lights and a few seasonal pine cones is simple yet visually striking. When it comes to plating food, think beyond the white plate and dish up canapés and cheese on chic grey slates instead. 

Don't forget the candles - they're a must-have for creating a warm and cosy atmosphere.

Music and film

Set the mood with a selection of holiday music, but remember to keep the volume low so that it doesn't disrupt conversation. You could also play a classic Christmas film in the background (with the sound on mute) as a fun conversation starter. 

Serve in style

Prepping in advance also includes planning which serving dishes to use. A few days before your party, make sure you have enough (and the right size) serving dishes, then decide what food will go on which plate using sticky notes. Genius! 

A festive tipple

When it comes to Christmas party ideas, making a signature cocktail for the evening is a great way to make your holiday bash extra special. When it comes to sparkling cocktails, this fig, gin and lemonade sparkling cocktail and raspberry sorbet bellini will go down a treat. But remember to keep the bar stocked with plenty of other options too, including wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks and hot chocolate. 

A self-serve bar is easiest. Leave drinks out next to glasses (use plastic cups if you're entertaining a bigger crowd), bowls of ice, napkins and cocktail garnishes (like lemons and olives) and let guests help themselves. 

Something for the kids

If you're having little ones come to your party, why not set up a separate area for them with books, colouring pencils and games to keep them entertained? Place a few bowls of child-friendly snacks and sweets on the table and let them enjoy themselves. 

Holiday décor

You don't need to cover your home floor to ceiling in twinkling lights to make an impact (although you can if you want to!) A few small touches will go a long way to adding festive cheer. A pretty wreath to your door, a bowl full of baubles grouped by colour on the table, and metallic accents are simple ways to add festive cheer. 

Adding an extra dash of sparkle

Sometimes the smallest touches can make the biggest impact. There's no need to go overboard, but a few candles in the bathrooms and festive details (like using cookie cutters for napkin holders) will really wow your guests. 

Gently heating a big batch of mulled wine before guests arrive ensures that your home is filled with the beautiful, seasonal scent of warm and aromatic spices. 

Clean-up duty

Save yourself a lot of hassle once guests have gone by keeping a large bin bag in the kitchen where guests can dispose of empty paper plates and food leftovers as they go. 

Enjoy yourself!

Finally, don't forget what this party is really about - having a wonderful time with loved ones! So don't stress about the details. As long as there are lots of lovely food and drink, and a happy host, then your guests are guaranteed to have a ball. Happy holidays! 

Looking for more Christmas party ideas? Discover how to give your favourite summer cocktails a festive twist plus genius Christmas hacks to use in your home this winter. Stock up on all your holiday party needs at or in-store